Improve your endgame play

Improve your endgame play

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you think, you should win this endgame but don’t know how even though it looks so simple?

Many players did. In fact, they failed to win these dead-won endgames and end up with a draw or even a “0” right next to their name.

It feels very disappointing to draw one of these “almost won” endgames. It feels even worth losing one.

If you’re curious to know how to win them, read on.

Basically, all the endgames can be divided into 2 categories:

  1. Theoretical Endgames – are those, where the outcome of the game is commonly known, with a correct play of course. These are well-studied positions and the solution is entirely technical.
  2. Practical Endgames – positions that appear in real games. These usually have more pawns and pieces than theoretical ones, and can only be solved by applying basic endgame knowledge. The goal is to transpose these, into the first type – theoretical.

You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that to win Practical (actual) endgames you need to memorize more theoretical endings. In fact it is not very hard and time consuming to learn 25-30 theoretical positions. You should only study positions which are very common and have high probability of occurrence in game.

It is very important to know how to play the Rook endgames, since these are, by far, the most common and complex of all endgames. The most important rook endgames are:

  • Rook vs. Rook + Pawn
  • Rook vs. Rook + 2 Pawns
  • Rook + Pawn vs. Rook and 2 Pawns on opposite wing

You should analyze the positions with different positions of the Kings (King on the same wing as pawns, king on opposite wing, isolated King, etc.)

Another important endgame to know is the Knight endgame. It is recommended to study positions of Knight + Pawn vs. Knight with different positioning of pieces.

In Bishop endings it is definitely important to study same color endgames Bishop vs. Bishop + Pawn, as well as the opposite color Bishop vs. Bishop +2 Pawns.

You will also need to study Queen and Rook endgames. Especially common are: Queen vs. Queen + Pawn and 2 Rooks vs. Knight and 2 Rooks vs. Bishop.

If you feel like studying advanced endgames you need to read the Queen vs. Rook endgame.

By learning the basic strategic ideas of these endgames you will definitely feel more comfortable playing them out, and will score quite a few victories in the upcoming events. Good Luck!

Image credit: Flickr user Abaranda

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Updated 12.16.2023


Thanks, Jorge. Remember, "Opening teaches you opening - endgame teaches you chess". ;-)
A good list of basic endgames for improve this essential part, thanks! :-)